Reversing the Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures – GSM Inquiry Submission

SAY NO TO DRACONIAN REEF REGULATIONS

We, provide this submission as in principle support of the Environment and Other Legislation (Reversal of Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) Amendment Bill 2021 and reserve the right to differing opinions on finer points.

Much has been spoken about with regards the consultation process involving the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2019. We do not share the optimism of other representative groups around the state governments perceived improvements in this process. Consultation with stakeholders is neither acceptance nor agreeance, especially if it is undertaken with what has been perceived by many as an having a predetermined outcome. Policy makers must consult with each other to avoid creating cumulative or overlapping regulatory burdens1. Just as they must consider the true cost of compliance, the time impost and financial burden that those targeted are compelled to shoulder in order to meet regulatory requirements.

A genuine consultation process ensures that you have considered the real-world impact of your policy options. This is likely to lead to better outcomes and greater acceptance in the community, particularly among any stakeholders who may be adversely affected by the policy.

When introducing the Environmental Protection (Great Barrier Reef Protection Measures) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2019, Minister for Environment and Great Barrier Reef the Hon Leeanne Enoch MP on 27 February 2019 stated, ” The standards will require growers to replace outdated high-risk practices with practices that are known to limit nutrient and sediment run-off and enhance efficiency, including in cost of production. These changes will be staged to commence between 2019 and 2022 according to water quality risk. The minimum practice standards align with recognised benchmarks for agricultural practices but limit run-off while sustaining farm productivity and profitability.”

This statement yet again highlighted the Queensland Labor Government’s incorrect presupposition that the farmers and graziers of the state are not at the cutting edge of innovation and practices that better manage and balance both the environment and profitability. In fact, the 17th of February 2021 release of the 2019 Reef Water Quality Report Card, and the results therein further calls into question both the Hon Leeanne Enoch MP’s statement and the need for draconian reef regulations being forced on the agricultural sector. Water quality improvements within the report showed an attained A Grading and a cumulative reduction of 25.5% to June 2019 for nitrogen entering the Great Barrier Lagoon.

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